The Most Idiotic Statement by a Cardinal This Month

Thursday, 10-07-2021

 

You would never know from his press coverage, but President Joe Biden is the most radically pro-abortion president who has ever held the office.  That’s all right with Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican’s dicastery of Integral Human Development.  The Cardinal says the president should not be denied Holy Communion because "If you say somebody cannot receive Communion, you are basically doing a judgment that [he is] in a state of sin."

The office of the bishop is to teach the Catholic faith.  According to the Catholic faith, anyone who promotes abortion is committing a grave sin.  Nor is the idea just some eccentricity of the Church, because the wrong of deliberately taking innocent human life is a fundamental of the natural moral law.  So what is going on here?

The Cardinal says that withholding Holy Communion from someone who promotes killing babies turns the sacrament into a “weapon.”  But the proposal here is not to score political points, but to uphold the spiritual integrity of the sacrament.  Let the political chips fall where they may; it isn’t the Church’s fault that mortal sin is part of the president’s platform.  According to Canon 1398, anyone who “procures” abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae, which means that he excommunicates himself by the very act of doing so.  It would be strange if promoting it and boasting that one has done so didn’t count as procuring it.

We are told that it would not be “pastoral” to chastise those who promote slaying innocents, but let’s think about that too.  St. Peter, our first pastor, wrote “Be sober, be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  It is hardly sober and watchful to stand by and let one’s president and those influenced by his bad example be devoured.  A shepherd does not reassure the sheep that there is no harm in the jaws of lions.  He warns them and tries to rescue them.

We are even told that it would be harsh and unkind to deny holy communion to the president.  Actually it is unspeakably cruel not to deny it.  As St. Paul explains in his first letter to the young church in Corinth, whoever receives the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily is in deadly peril.  This isn’t candy we’re talking about.

What then could this false shepherd have been thinking?  In suggesting that we can’t condemn the promotion of abortion, was he saying that we can’t see the state of Biden’s heart?  We can’t, but we can’t see anyone’s heart; invisibility of the heart does not imply invisibility of the sin.  By an invisibility standard, no one should ever be barred from communion, and not even the Cardinal holds that position.

Was he saying that abortion is not wrong?  Probably not, although his words give that impression.

Was he saying that abortion is not very wrong?  He did say that Communion should be withheld only in “extreme cases,” but I don’t think he meant that abortion is not very wrong, but that licensing and encouraging abortion is not very wrong.

Now we are getting close.  Was he saying that the blood of the deed darkens only the hands of those who wield the knives, not those who procure them and sharpen them?

Ah.  I suspect it was something like that.

We have heard this before.  I didn’t rob the bank.  I only kept the motor running while I was waiting for my friend.  I didn’t cut the guy’s throat.  I only held him still so that you could.  I didn’t support the murder of the Jews.  I only voted for the people who thought they should be murdered.

There are many famous parallels.  Stephen A. Douglas wasn’t pro-slavery.  He was only pro-choice about slavery.  Pontius Pilate didn’t command Jesus’ execution.  He only gave official permission for it.

As though one could authorize evil without sharing in the guilt of it.

A good thing not only for the president to think about, but for the Cardinal.

I entertain no hopes that this foolish, negligent, and morally confused shepherd will be removed from his office.  On the contrary, he will probably be praised for helping make straight the path.  Many would like the Abortion President himself to be invited to the Vatican.

“For the time has come,” said St. Peter, “for judgment to begin with the household of God.”  One trembles to think what the judgment may be for tolerating the promotion of bloodshed in mercy’s name.

 

High Tech Child Abandonment

Monday, 10-04-2021

 

Sperm donation is a perverse and inadvertent form of eugenics, one that selects for men who have the vanity to broadcast their germ plasm among women whom they neither know nor love, to produce children whom they will never help to nurture, in order to spread their genes through the population (and get paid for it).  The practice mixes features of polygamy and child abandonment, all without the trouble of marrying anyone.

If the selection effect is strong enough and goes on long enough, then over time we can expect an increase in the proportion of the male population that has whatever other predispositions men like this tend to have.

 

The Self-Esteem Movement’s New Mascot

Thursday, 09-30-2021

 

After years of focus-grouping, the self-esteem movement has settled on a new mascot.  I think they’ve nailed it.  No one, and I mean no one, has more self-esteem than this handsome guy.

 

The Sociopathy of Government

Monday, 09-27-2021

 

Like other governments, republics don’t fray and weaken by accident.  One of the greatest hazards in politics is to act without understanding the passions and motives by which decadent political classes are driven.

We may suppose that members of the political classes seek government action in order to deal with crises.  But they may crises in order to have reasons for government action.

We may suppose that they make individuals and families dependent as an inadvertent effect of trying to help them.  But they may seek methods of so-called help in order to make them dependent.

We may suppose that they fashion laws and regulations to serve the public good.  But they may overhaul their concept of the common good just to have a reason for more laws and regulations.

We may suppose that they try to manage the problems assigned to them.  But they may seek to make the problems worse in order to prove their own importance.

We may suppose that they intervene in economic institutions in order to correct market failures.  But they may court market failures as an excuse to intervene.

We may suppose that they allow outrages to acquire the force of precedent because they misunderstand the requirements of justice.  But they may be unwilling to do justice because they cherish continuity more.

We may suppose that they hope to do great deeds to do in order to bask in the sun of public notice.  But if notice is all their desire, then provided they go unpunished, they may value infamy almost as much as fame.

We may suppose that they try to uphold public order.  But at last, at long last, there may come a time when it better serves their interests to aid and abet those who undermine it.  And then the end is near.

Such motives, though not universal, are far more common than one may think.  I don’t say that all who are driven by them understand their real aims, though some do.  Nor do I say that all who cooperate with those who do understand their aims understand their own complicity.  As in every age, the greater number are so called useful idiots, who take for granted the framework within which they are working.

One should desire to be useful – but to whom or what?  It would be cruel to write about idiocy if there weren’t a cure for it.  There is a cure, a hard one.  “Does not wisdom call, does not understanding raise her voice?”  It would be a good thing to listen.

 

Modern Sex: The Fusion of Obsession with Indifference

Thursday, 09-23-2021

 

As a society, we are more and more obsessed by sex.  Yet surprisingly, we are having less and less of it.  The sociologists call the latter phenomenon the “sex recession.”  One writer asks whether it is turning into a Great Sex Depression, like the great economic depression of the 1930s.

What accounts for this odd fusion of obsession with indifference?  I suspect that it results mostly from the ongoing project of separating sex from the making of new life and the mutual devotion of the husband and wife in making it.  For it isn’t just that people have sex outside marriage.  Even within what passes for marriage, they often seek to avoid having children.

What a bore.  If sex is but willful sterility, why not just use porn?  It’s a lot less trouble.  You don’t even need other people.

Over time, though, that sort of thing loses its ability to excite.  You must seek more and more extreme stimuli, for less and less result.  Surprise, surprise!  That’s just how obsession works.

 

They Couldn’t Say It If It Wasn’t True

Monday, 09-20-2021

 

"They couldn't say it if it wasn't true."  That’s how one of my elderly relatives used to chide me, bless her heart, when I mocked the tabloid newspapers.  Years ago, in a spirit of fun, I attached to my university office door a page from the Weekly World News showing a story about Bill Clinton getting advice from space aliens visiting from the planet with the most advanced economy in the galaxy.  I reluctantly took it down after several of my students thought I was serious.

Well, at least they asked.

Now come up to the present.  We live in the day of politicized medicine, science, teaching, news reporting, “fact checking,” administration of justice, and internet censorship.  One of the pundits said recently that we shouldn’t complain about things being politicized, because politics just means governing ourselves.  Yes, of course.  But what I mean by the term is governing ourselves crookedly – manipulating people and telling lies for political advantage.

The amazing thing isn’t that the people running these scams lie.  It’s that they lie even when they know they can be caught at it.  On the one hand, people have become cynical:  They know there is a lot of lying.  On the other, they tend to believe the lies of their own favorite thugs:  "They couldn't say it if it wasn't true."

What accounts for this unstable compound of cynicism and gullibility?  The answer is that most modern lying involves the claim that the other guy is lying.  “I’m not doing that bad thing.  He is.  Don’t look at me.  Look at him.”  You can be gullible about this kind of lie, even while being cynical about the person the liar is lying about.

So add this to the Book of Best Practices for Living in a Decadent Age:  When public figure P says that public figure Q is up to something, by all means consider the evidence.  It could well be true.  But first consider the evidence that the one who is really up to that something is P himself.

 

Equivocating About Meritocracy

Thursday, 09-16-2021

 

For this midweek post perhaps I will be forgiven for making just a little point about language.  Sometimes, political writers use the term “meritocracy” for a system in which the citizens place those whom they consider the most qualified in public office.  But often, the term is used for a political system in which those who consider themselves entitled, or who possess some sort of credential, shoulder the citizens aside and do what they think best.  These two meanings are not the same; they are almost opposite.  Yet we allow ourselves to slip back and forth between them.

It would be helpful if we could bring ourselves to be a little more fastidious when we speak.  “Meritocracy” has become such a weasel word that we would do better to give it up.